Thursday, June 12, 2008

Art and Science

In recent years I have journeyed back into basketball coaching, teaching youngsters the skills of the sport. It has involved a journey down memory lane, recalling drills and skills which have become second nature over many many years of playing at different levels. My previous coaching experiences had been of adults, so to take up a young group who are still growing into their bodies, developing basic control over limbs, has been a thought-provoking challenge. Some reflections have been germinating on the experience:

1. Never be afraid of failure. One of the first instructions I give to junior players is not to be afraid to make mistakes. None of us learnt to walk without the occasional stumble and fall, yet the only way to learn is by doing. When all is said and done, nothing of a training session is any value unless it is tried on the court during a game. I don't expect players to get it right the first time, and challenge them often to try something a bit different.

2. Don't be daunted by the size of the opponent. On the basketball court, a tall opponent presents obvious challenges. A recent U13 girls opponent was well in excess of 6 foot tall. Getting past the intimidation felt by the girls enabled them to focus on strategies and tactics which helped them turn the game. The taller opponent had a big impact, but their response enabled them to overcome, using their own capabilities in the face of a challenging opponent.

3. Art and Science. Much time is spent in teaching basic techniques, both individual and team. At the end of the day, however, when a player is on court, they have to make their own choices. The basic techniques hopefully lay a platform which gives them a range of choices and the capability to execute within a game situation. But a coach cannot call every play, or micromanage every game situation. Deciding which move to execute is an art which can be honed and encouraged, rather than managed. The range of moves can be expanded by teaching the technique.

4. Results take care of themselves. Game results are a byproduct of other things: how the team plays, how they adapt to the strategies of opponents, and a horde of other factors. However, if the team plays to the best of its ability, works as a team, and has the skills and techniques to use when needed, the outcome of the game takes care of itself. By focussing on winning - on results - we are often distracted from the capabilities we have to respond to the situation at hand.

Each game throws up different challenges... a lot like life really. The sporting field is a good metaphor for many of life's challenges.


sattvicwarrior said...

1. Never be afraid of failure
. whats "failure"???..
Don't be daunted by the size of the opponent.
.. Step on the buggers TOES ..
2. Don't be daunted by the size of the opponent...
that of course applies to IN or OUT of the SHOWER right???
.. 3. Art and Science..
tis the icing on the cake..
4. Results take care of themselves..
aye mate. some call it the LAW OF KARMA

revheard said...

"What IS failure?" is a good question to ask. Depends on where you draw the line!

And not the law of Karma, which says you receive back what you give. The law of seeds and fruit - you reap what you sow - seems more salient. If you do a,b,c, then the following fruit will eventually come... one's sense of timing plays into the first question of failure.